Access to endless amounts of cheap energy made us rich, and wrecked our climate, and it also made us the first people on earth who had no practical need of our neighbors.
Our economy, unlike any that came before it, is designed to work without the input of your neighbors. Borne on cheap oil, our food arrives as if by magic from a great distance (typically, two thousand miles). If you have a credit card and an Internet connection, you can order most of what you need and have it left anonymously at your door. We've evolved a neighborless lifestyle; on average an American eats half as many meals with family and friends as she did fifty years ago. On average, we have half as many close friends.
There are psychological implications of our hyperindividualism. In short, we're less happy than we used to be, and no wonder — we are, after all, highly evolved social animals... And so it heartens me that around the world people are starting to purposefully rebuild communities as functioning economic entities, in the hope that they'll be able to buffer some of the effects of peak oil and climate change.
From Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update:
Myers: This week, Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country which will allow police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there’s some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but could we all agree that there’s nothing more Nazi than saying "Show me your papers?" There’s never been a World War II movie that didn’t include the line "show me your papers." It’s their catchphrase. Every time someone says "show me your papers," Hitler’s family gets a residual check. So heads up, Arizona; that’s fascism. I know, I know, it’s a dry fascism, but it’s still fascism.
If a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.
This is my protest, too.
I remember Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, inflated military spending, deregulation, two thousand bank failures and bailouts. Reagan was criticized for burdening our children by quadrupling the debt.
I remember George H.W. Bush’s unsustainable tax cuts, military spending, bank failures and bailouts that ran the debt higher. Bush was criticized for burdening our grandchildren.
Where was the Tea Party?
I remember the FDIC Improvement Act of ‘91, signed by Bush, giving the government power to take over failing banks, to conservatively reign them in, to be released when solvent again.
I remember Clinton-era prosperity (with tax increases), based on emerging technologies, a new infrastructure and the Information Age. Clinton left office with a projected surplus of $1.1Trillion.
I remember George W. Bush’s campaign for tax cuts, “It’s our money.”
“It’s our debt,” was the ignored reply.
Bush’s tax cuts (through Senate reconciliation) quickly erased the projected surplus, and with the wars, the debt doubled to nearly $11Trillion.
Where was the Tea Party when trillions were borrowed for tax cuts and to kill people? Oh, here they come, just in time to “rescue” us by weakening and delaying Healthcare Reform that would save people from bankruptcy and untimely death.
Off the top of my head, the United States subsidizes coal, oil, transportation, agricultures, timber, communications, nuclear energy, pharmaceuticals, education, healthcare, defense, even tobacco. But, by God, if we don’t make money off of sick people, then we’re goose-stepping toward Communism.
This is my protest, too.
Scholars, amateur scientists, aspiring men of letters—just about anyone with intellectual ambition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was likely to keep a commonplace book. In its most customary form, “commonplacing,” as it was called, involved transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one’s reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations. It was a kind of solitary version of the original web logs: an archive of interesting tidbits that one encountered during one’s textual browsing. The great minds of the period—Milton, Bacon, Locke—were zealous believers in the memory-enhancing powers of the commonplace book. There is a distinct self-help quality to the early descriptions of commonplacing’s virtues: in the words of one advocate, maintaining the books enabled one to “lay up a fund of knowledge, from which we may at all times select what is useful in the several pursuits of life.”
The entire financial system's integrity is gone and needs to be re-established. This case can start that process by demonstrating there is a regulator who is capable of enforcing the law.
What's what with the Goldman fraud case, and why it's important.
The implication is that we don't really have a direct experience of what we're feeling ‘right now,' but only a memory - an unreliable memory - of what we thought it felt like some seconds or milliseconds ago. The vivid present tense we all think we inhabit might itself be a retroactive illusion.